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Wearable Cameras and Microphones

We’ve used miniaturised wearable cameras and microphones on one project now, and at the time of writing (1/21) are just setting up another. So we’re certainly not the experts (that’s Chen and Linda! – and see some of the other folks at Databrary) – but we do have some experience to share. See also our other article on home wearables for autonomic monitoring.

Clothes that house the wearable cameras and microphones

For our recordings we’ve been looking for wearable cameras and microphones that can be worn for an entire day – and which can be worn down to a 2-month-old baby. For that size and weight we haven’t been able to find anything that can record a day’s worth of continuous video. So we’ve ummed and aahed about whether it’s better to record a 5 second burst of video every minute (which is tricky) – or a single static photo every minute (which is much easier)… Obviously, this depends on what you’re looking at.

After quite a bit of research we found the Narrative Clip cameras – which are certainly small and light enough even for a small baby. They’ve stopped making them – but the owner Bjorn still has some and seems happy to sell them, and help. He taught us how to change the firmware so that we can decide for ourselves when the video records, and for how long. But let us know if you find a better option.

Placement of Wearable Cameras and Microphones

The other thing which is tricky is where to put them… For younger babies (<6 months) a position on a band in the middle of the forehead is best – as you really see what they’re seeing then. But older babies just take that off – so we’ve ended up going for a position in a built-in pocket on the lapel – see pictures… This isn’t great as it means that we get a lot of shots showing just the bottom halves of peoples’ faces! But it’s better than nothing.

One thing that’s good though is that it ensures that the camera is in exactly the same position for everyone. Putting it in a band on the forehead means that you’ve got to make sure it’s in the same position for everyone, and check it doesn’t move during the day.

Participants wearing the home wearables

The other thing which we regretted not doing in our last project was using a fish-eye lens. These can be stuck on to the cameras – and widen the field of view. Otherwise, you only get the central 70 degrees of field of view – whereas what we can actually see in front of us is more like 170 degrees… A fish-eye lens can help to improve that.

Fish eye camera for room monitoring

Further Reading